Australia’s online gambling laws among the weakest in the world - Industry exploiting weak laws to groom children for a life of gambling
2 June 2023
New analysis of online-gambling laws across the world has revealed Australia has one of the weakest regulatory regimes on the planet as many countries across Europe and Asia move to reduce gambling harm.
And our status as an international laggard on regulating online gambling is allowing the gambling industry to “groom” young people through the gamification of gambling and even offering free, unrestricted apps that mimic the look and sound of poker machines.
The disturbing findings are outlined in the Alliance’s Online Gambling Policy, released today. It comes as a parliamentary committee reviewing online gambling in Australia is due to make its recommendations later this month.
The chief executive of the Alliance for Gambling Reform, Carol Bennett, said the analysis underscores why online gambling is the fastest growing form of gambling in Australia with more than $7 billion in losses suffered each year. Research shows people who gamble online are more likely to experience harm (34%) than those who gamble on poker machines (15.6%).
“While Australia dithers on banning sports gambling ads an hour before and after a game, many countries across Europe and Asia have simply banned all gambling advertisements in traditional media and online,” Ms Bennett said.
Ms Bennett said it is clear that in Australia online gambling has evolved so rapidly that research, policy, regulation and governments have not been able to adapt, address or prevent the exponential growth in gambling harm.
She said it was damning that governments did not invest in independent harm reduction bodies so there is no challenge to their ‘light touch gambling policy and regulation’.
“Most dangerously this is allowing a convergence between gambling and gaming that is targeted at young people. Gambling-like features are now embedded in gaming and most have no age restrictions,” she said.
“And it appears poker machine manufacturers such as Aristocrat are also grooming young people through unrestricted apps that mimic the look and sound of poker machines.”
Ms Bennett said the international analysis of online gambling laws across the world revealed:
Italy and Germany have banned all gambling advertisements on tv, radio and the internet, while Spain and the Netherlands have put greater restrictions on ads
Belgium has introduced a mandatory cap on the online gambling spend for each person
In the UK a white paper has proposed limits to logos on sports jerseys and advertisements at stadiums
Many Asian countries have strict gambling regulations that only allow gambling in casinos, South Korea and Cambodia are examples where online gambling is completely banned
The Alliance is calling on the government to urgently restrict online exposure to gambling for children and young people, ban the broadcasting of all gambling advertisements and also ban all forms of online promotion, advertising and inducements. It also wants increased enforcement actions against companies breaching these restrictions.
In addition the paper calls for the establishment of a properly resourced and empowered national regulator for gambling and for the creation of an online gambling ombudsman.
The Alliance for Gambling Reform Online Gambling Policy paper is available here:
Carol Bennett is available for interview
Media contact: Martin Thomas – 0477 340 704